November 11

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Spanish Study Plan | Part 3 – Make Your Spanish Study Plan

In this last step to create a successful Spanish study plan, you'll find new ways to learn Spanish on your own. There are ideas for Spanish language resources and learning activities. This part will cover all the language skills, vocabulary and grammar. Grab my FREE printable planning sheets to get started. 


Would you drive from Los Angeles to Manhattan to the Florida Keys to St. Louis and back in a Sienna? With five kids? That's the same feeling I got when I decided that I wanted to become fluent in Spanish. It seemed like too much, an impossible task that was way too overwhelming. 

Well, I did that roadtrip for three months and it was a fun-filled adventure. Along the way we ran into cemeteries, snow sledding forests, the highest mountain peaks, Indian reservations, burned bridges, dungeons and the best pools with slides. 

It was all about finding the right routine. Short drives and plenty of time to explore made it the best trip ever. Your plan to become bilingual in Spanish can be the same. Let's see how. 


The Basics of Any Practical Spanish Study Plan

There are a few things you must do before beginning today's second language planning session.

  1. Learn about the language skills and rate your current level of experience
  2. Brainstorm all the ways you see yourself using Spanish in the future 
  3. Decide which language skills you need and the future skill level for each
  4. Download and print the Spanish Study Plan Guidebook.

If you haven't finished these first steps yet, click over to the previous posts in the study plan series:

       How to Learn Spanish | 3 Step Language Learning Plan

       Language Learning Plan | Step 2 - Your Dream Destination

Now, with the first steps to learn Spanish completed, you're ready to make your Spanish learning plan. The best way to become fluent in Spanish is by actively using the language daily.

As a result, your daily practice and choice of learning methods will benefit you with more opportunity, freedom, and connection to others. 


How to Learn Spanish Effectively

Can you really teach yourself Spanish? Yes, this is the most effective method. Although language is used to communicate with others, your approach definitely determines your success. What makes studying by yourself work is ownership. Language is not a one size fits all deal. 

In my experience textbooks and classroom instruction took way too much effort for small results. Vocabulary memorization, oral exercises and labwork was not reliable in the real world of speaking Spanish. 

Later, outside the classroom, I learned a lot more Spanish faster. The difference was in exposure to real language and discovering what skills I needed in real time. These were my daily Spanish lessons. Different real life situations told me what I needed to focus on in my Spanish study.


How to Speak Spanish Fluently

Hit the road with your bags packed. To add Spanish to your daily routine, you must discover new methods of learning. 

  • Read a real book out loud (not a textbook)
  • Explore words with reference books and say them
  • Talk to yourself for practice
  • Your favorite activities are times of Spanish speaking practice
  • Use a variety of learning tools to gain listening and speaking skills

All of these methods are ideal chances to practice speaking Spanish daily. You don't need to be in Mexico or hire a tutor, although both are a dream. Right where you are and by yourself, speak and listen to your voice. All at once you're practicing speaking and listening skills.

There are limitless accents and pronunciation styles all over the world. And you've got your own  too as a second language learner. As you go, depending on your focus, add a listening resource and activity to your plan. 

Focus on refining your points of weakness to improve Spanish fluency in your conversation skills.


Self Study Spanish

Progress happens with action. Creating a plan and taking action will close that gap between your current language experience and what you aspire to do in the future. This step will turn your dreams into reality with effective learning methods and a consistent study habit.

  • Active Engagement
  • Spanish Study Plan
  • Take Action

It's really simple. Do the right things often and you will make progress. An effective language study plan will have plenty of language sources, engaging learning activities, vocabulary exploration, and grammar memory work.

Once you determine what you will study and the resources you need, then adding in details like the amount of time, frequency and duration ensure maximum growth. No matter what life throws your way, a growth mindset will keep you on track until you reach your goal.


Grab this FREE planning sheet


How to Practice Spanish on Your Own

You can practice Spanish on your own with many different kinds of resources and learning tools. In general, textbooks and classrooms are very limited and inflexible. They miss the mark for producing fluency with minimal effort. Learning about Spanish grammar makes you a walking encyclopedia. In the real world, you're not ready for a conversation or to read a real Spanish book. 


Best Ways to Learn Spanish By Yourself

Instead, do some activities in Spanish. Using your body and mind creates new language pathways. The senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell and movement engage the brain. New Spanish words learned this way are processed and stored into memory.


How Activities Create New Language Pathways

Thinking and memory is essential to learn a language. Activities engage the mind and body. Asking questions and searching for meaning is the number one task. 

  • analysis
  • imagination
  • decision making
  • problem solving
  • forming ideas
  • being creative

All of these tasks develop new language pathways in all languages. So while you're doing an activity in Spanish, you mind is creating a new set of language pathways. This is how we build vocabulary and connect words together. 

From the sensory activity, the mind creates memories. Words and complex language structures are recorded for future predictions. Our emotions impact learning memory. During an activity, we respond with various emotional states. The stronger the emotions involved in learning; a deeper memory is made. Not only that, but our emotions drive our attention and motivate our progress. 


Maximize Your Best Learning Styles

Everybody is different. What works for me will not as effective for someone else. The important thing is to know how you learn best. Chances are you've only tried one way and made it work with a lot of hard work. Take a moment now to discover your best learning style. 


Visual

The use of sight and spatial senses with visual representations. A visual learner works well with written instructions and illustrations. They organize ideas with notes, lists, drawings, and color-coding. Good visual sources are graphs, pictures, videos, and maps. Creating a mental picture of a concept is helpful.


Auditory

The use of the sense of hearing with sound and music. An auditory learner works well with verbal instructions. Asking questions and having discussions are important in the learning process. Some effective auditory activities are dramatic read aloud, listen and repeat, chanting, music, audio recording.


Kinesthetic

The use of body movement through physical activities. A kinesthetic learner prefers learning by doing. Written and verbal instructions are not necessary since they prefer to learn by observation and experimentation. The best activities are games, role-playing, hand gestures, and exercises. They can connect physical sensations and movement to visual and auditory inputs.


Linguistic

The use of reading and writing to learn. A linguistic learner engages in an academic type of work. They can translate visual and auditory tools into writing. The best learning activities are taking detailed notes, rewriting notes, reading independently, writing definitions, outlines, summaries and stories, research, and reports.


Which learning style is most effective for you to learn Spanish? If you're not sure, take this quiz to discover your best methods:

http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/

All of the learning styles have their unique benefits. Some styles work better with certain language skills. For example, linguistic activites naturally grow the reading and writing skills. And auditory activities are best for listening skills. 

However, focus on the ones you learn best with to choose your activities.

It's not just about finding a book or a class, but discovering the way to connect effectively with the material. Activities engage the senses triggering thinking processes and memory. The learning styles and tools help to make new language pathways. That's the plan for fluency. 


Best Ways to Teach Your Kids Spanish

Again, each child will have their unique learning style strengths. Many activities can be mixed with different learning styles and tools. Every school day, we had an afternoon quiet read aloud time spread across the living room. Everyone listened quietly. My little girls drew pictures. They all wrote at least one word from the reading. My oldest loved to talk, so we listened. 

As you choose an activity, record specific learning tools for each child. Their age determines the length of study time. 

  • Preschool and younger - as long as they are attentive
  • Elementary - 15 minutes
  • Middle school - 30 minutes
  • High school - 45 minutes

These are helpful guidelines for the amount of time to spend on an activity. Breaking the time up may also make learning more productive. To expect more is not beneficial. 


Homeschool Spanish Study Plan

This study plan is ideal for homeschool families and groups. The core activities and discussion are done together. Individual learning activities are added according to the learning style and skill level. It may be a good idea to print a study planning sheet for each student. 


Basic Spanish Study Guide

Next to daily Spanish, this is the most important part of studying Spanish at home. Planning the specific activities, the resources, learning tools and schedule is essential to have an actionable daily tasks. 

  • set good language learning goals
  • choose learning activities and tools
  • find best Spanish resources
  • schedule and complete tasks (do your favorite things)

You'll have a solid study habit with the right mindset, acheivable goals and backup plan. Ready? Let's get your study plan made.


Make Your Spanish Study Plan

This sheet is the guide for your daily Spanish lessons.

First, you'll pin down specific goals for each language skill. Then choose the specific activities and resources. And finally, you must schedule and do it. Miss any of that and no progress is in your future. 

For sure, this plan is like no other. No classrooms, lesson plans or textbooks are part of this learning process. I've seen kids pour years of study into a textbook and not know any Spanish at the end. Open your mind for something different.


Good Language Learning Goals

Already, you know what you want to do in Spanish - work, travel, growing friendships, read, watch movies, have conversations, eavesdrop... Now we're going to break those dreams down into practical skills. 


Spanish Fluency for Each Language Skill 

Language fluency is to become proficient in listening, speaking, reading and or writing. A whole range of skills and experience levels are part of the learning process. The point is to close the gap between today's experience and your desired future skills.

Earlier, you learned about the language skills and rated your current experience.

Which skills do you need to work on?

Now, we're going to forecast which skills you need for your plan. For example, book lovers need reading skills up to the level of their type of material. Or eavesroppers depend on really good listening skills. 

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing


Write down your goal for each skill you need for your future dream purpose.

"I will increase my ______________ skill from _____ current rating to ______ future rating."

Not everyone wants to become fluent or advanced. The scale is 0, no experience, to 10, fluent. For travelers, future skill level of 3 may be enough to get around. 

Grab this FREE planning sheet

A Complete Spanish Study Program for Free

DIY your Spanish learning program with quality content


1- The Best Spanish Resources

2- Fully Engaging Spanish Activities

3- Most Effective Learning Tools


Simple Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these step by step instructions. For more details on each step go through each of the sections below. 

  1. Choose your core language resource - book, audio or visual
  2. Gather reference materials
  3. Pick your best learning style activities and tools (check the box)
  4. Select a core activity and write on the line
  5. Check the boxes for the learning skills the activity covers
  6. Include learning style activity and tool for each core activity
  7. Set the amount of time for core activity

One thing to remember is to keep it simple, practical, easy, and fun. Do not overload yourself with too many things to do, because you won't do any of them. Instead, start with one simple activity. Then add more as you successfully complete that one.


Best Way to Learn Spanish on Your Own

Let's face it, one of the biggest obstacles to learning Spanish is having opportunities to use the language. A complete language learning program includes resources to model language. These become your source for Spanish vocabulary and grammar. 

Here are three kinds of Spanish resources you'll need:

  • Spanish Read Aloud Book or Other Resource
  • Spanish Reference Materials
  • Spanish Learning Tools

Once you've found the right resources, adding them to your day is simple. You've got options. For one, you can do your ordinary activities in Spanish. Or, your new Spanish resource can be the launching point for a new activity to add to your routine. For both, your best learning tools will maximize your opportunities to become bilingual. 


How can I make learning Spanish fun?


Do the things you love to do. 

Learning Spanish can be a fun-filled adventure with the right plan. You are unique and your interests are different from anyone else. Some topics you're passionate about and others are mean nothing to you. 

Think about these topics - hiking, rock climbing, nature walks, knitting, parenting, working, cars, coffee, deep sea fishing, eating sushi at Nobu in Malibu, or a fish sandwich at Jack-in-the-Box. You may enjoy one or none of these topics. Focus on your favorite topics. This way you'll enjoy the learning process. And you're more likely to use your new vocabulary in your daily life. 

Chances are you're already reading, listening to podcasts or music, and watching movies. Turn one of these into a Spanish learning experience. Your favorite topics are ideal for any of these types of resources. You'll be instantly engaged and enjoy the learning process. 

The way you learn Spanish won't be a chore using your favorite type of resources and topics of interest.


Bring a curious mind to your activity time.

As a result, your interested mind will want to know more. Engagement is the most important part of learning Spanish. The more interest you are the more questions you'll have. This will drive your search for new vocabulary. 

Using different learning tools creates new language pathways. Your curiosity will show up in questions. The learning process is filled with the search for meaning. As you listen, speak, read and write new words, your mind is creating new language pathways. With higher engagement, the memory of new language will be deeper and longer lasting.

The best part is your interest will keep you motivated to work hard toward your goals. 


The Best Spanish Resources

Learning Spanish at home requires two things - a main resource for language and basic reference materials. The first one gives you a model for language. The second are essential to gain depth of meaning and correct usage.

  • Print, visual or audio language resource
  • Spanish grammar reference books 

This is how you can custom create your own home-based immersion program. By using quality resources, you'll have immediate access to the best Spanish language examples. We have easy access to a wide variety of books, audio and visual resources. 

Now, let's go through different types of activities and combine them with the most effective resources and learning tools. All of these together give you a complete and effective Spanish study plan.


Core Activity and Language Resource

Every self-study Spanish plan schedules a main activity that uses a core language resource. The resource you choose will be different depending on your skills goals, favorite kind of activity and your best learning styles and tools. Some resources are naturally better for oral or written skills. 


Spanish Immersion at Home

It is possible to create a language-rich environment is with a book, print, visual, or audio source. The core language source is the key to access a wide variety of vocabulary and grammar structures. Real sources give real examples of speech and writing. 

  • An individual can practice verbal skills alone
  • One language source can be used for a group (homeschool, book club, study group...)
  • Each student has individual activities for their level and learning style
  • All language skills can be practiced for any type of resource

Time spent using the core Spanish resource is the foundation for home-based Spanish immersion. 


Activities Using Core Language Resource

The core activity combines with a variety of learning activities to maximize language engagement. Different types of learners process language with different senses or movement. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and linguistic activities increase thinking and memory processes for language retention.

Selecting the best type of resource for this time is essential.



The Best Spanish Books for Beginners

The starting point for all language learners is exposure to the language itself. New sounds, words and ways of connecting meanings are very challenging. Gaining experience hearing, saying, reading and writing is crucial from the beginning.

These sources show you first hand how to say anything in Spanish. 


Spanish Silbarios

In schools, children learn to read from silbarios. Literally, they are syllable books. First the vowel sounds are given, then combined with consonants. Plenty of basic vocabulary words are on each page. By the end basic full sentences are given. Each Latin American country has their own version of a beginning Spanish reader. 


Board Books

At the start, for the least overwhelming experience, board books are perfect for a simple beginning. Each book has just a few words about a specific topic. The best Spanish board books have one word with a picture of the meaning. This is ideal for creating new language pathways in the brain without any translation. 


Spanish Fables

Remember the turtle and the hair from Aesop's fables? That's just one example of a story from a book of fables. These short and sweet stories are usually one paragraph long. They end with a one sentence moral of the story. The length is perfect for a beginning Spanish learner.

two monkeys - monkey holding baby monkey


Spanish Children's Series Books

After some experience, children's series books are simple enough to understand. They are full of a lot of action, descrition and even dialogue. Because they are written for children the language is straight foward. The key is to find an easy going pace to avoid overwhelm. 



The unfamiliarity of a new language can be intimidating and discouraging. But that's all part of the learning process. Starting small with regular doses of engaging activities is the best way to build experience and new language skills. Adding any of these books to your daily routine will give you the immersion on your own. 


The Best Spanish Audio Sources

The oral skills are the foundation for all skills. Listening is the number one language skill to focus on from the start. And second to that is pronunciation, if you plan on having a smooth conversation. 

  • Audiobooks
  • Movies and Episodes
  • News reports
  • Podcasts
  • Music

Each of these sources give you the opportunity to hear how Spanish sounds. The best part is that all of them can be paused and replayed. Even better yet, some have the audio in print. You can read the book along with the audiobook, read the subtitles in movies and get music lyrics. This is a powerful combination of reading and hearing. 

The advantage to audio sources is the focus on the sound of the language. Having a smooth conversation is hard in the beginning. So, using audio sources is a way of training your ear for a new phonics code. At the same time, you need to train your tongue for new sounds and letter combinations. 


The Best Spanish Visual Sources

How do I say this in Spanish? That's the main question when using a purely visual source. The object is your insipiration for telling a story, describing something or talking about a concept. With visual sources, you are responsible for telling about the observable details. 

  • Artwork
  • Nature Study
  • Workplace
  • Homelife
  • Chores and Tasks
  • Hobbies
  • Recreation
Artwork

Naturally, the elements and design of artwork have a lot of detail to talk about. There are objects, colors, spacing, patterns to describe. The art holds a visual story to put into words. The artist carefully places every part to send a message. From all of this, you'll have the opporunity to work on your expression skills through speaking and writing. 


Ultimately, your daily life is full of visual sources. Everything around you has a Spanish word connected to it. Use your ordinary activites, the events of the day, the things in the environment as inspiration for your new Spanish vocabulary. You have a story to tell or write in Spanish.  

Whatever tasks or purposeful language learning activities you do be sure to use Spanish. 


The best way to learn a language is by using the langauge. Sometimes the simple is the best way. You don't necessarily need a textbook or a teacher. Here are some really effective ways to get some practical Spanish skills on your own. 

Above, we've looked at several ordinary resources for Spanish language. Now, let's connect those resources to some engaging learning activities. 


Grab this FREE planning sheet

Spanish Activities List for Beginners

The most important part of learning a language is to actually use the language in real life. On the planning sheet, there is a list of ideas for activities. These activities usually have a language resource and learning tools.

  • audiobooks
  • copywork
  • vocabulary challenge
  • word exploration
  • diagramming
  • dictation
  • make lap books
  • hobbies
  • make models
  • listen to music
  • watch movies
  • parsing
  • news
  • narration
  • journaling
  • socializing
  • research topics
  • record an audio


    Activities to Practice Spanish


    Are any of these activities already a part of your routine? 

    If so, then simply begin to do them in Spanish instead. This means you'll need to find a core language source - a book, an audio or a visual resource. And next, your best learning style will tell you what learning tools to use. 

    If not, choose your favorite kind of activity to add to your day. 

    How to Read Books to Learn Spanish


    You can practice every language skill by reading an book out loud in Spanish. An ordinary book gives tons of vocabulary and examples of real language use. A read aloud time is good to build all language skills.  I share detailed instructions how to structure a read aloud time and  beginning book lists too.  


    How to Listen to Audios to Learn Spanish


    You can practice every language skill by listening to a variety of audio resources in Spanish. Audiobooks, music and movies have loads of vocabulary and examples of real language use. A listening time is  ideal for growing the oral skills of listening and speaking.

    Also, reading and writing skills can be grown combined with the book, subtitles and lyrics. It is really easy to fall back on audio sources for a backup plan. Be careful not to get overwhelmed by the fast pace of speech. Take small clips and slow down the speed in the beginning. Then as your skills grow expand your quantity and increase your speed. 


    How to Observe Art to Learn Spanish


    You can practice every language skill by observing artwork in Spanish. The artwork has a lot of details and action to describe and discuss. Observation of the visual elements are perfect for developing strong speaking and writing skills.

    I share detailed instructions for how to structure an art study time and images of artwork too. Finding a topical vocabulary list for art is helpful for discussion. 


    How to Add Spanish to Your Interests


    Anything and everything you do can be done in Spanish. Your hobbies, recreation, work or favorite topics are great opportunities to use Spanish in your real life.  A topical vocabulary list for your interests is helpful to talk about what you see.  

    Using Your Best Learning Styles and Tools


    Everyone learns best in different ways. Take a moment to consider how you learn best. For an overview, read the section about the learning styles above. These activities engage the senses for maximum growth of language skills and memory. Here, I list some practical activity ideas and tools for each learning style:

    Visual
    • Notes on whiteboard
    • Lists to organize thoughts
    • Draw pictures of concepts
    • Slips of paper to organize
    • Use of highlighting and color-coding
    • Graphic representations - graphs, charts and diagrams, brainstorm bubble, brain maps
    • Pictures, images, videos, and maps
    • Flashcards
    • Using puppets
    Auditory
    • Listen and repeat
    • Chant to rhythm
    • Make speeches or presentations
    • Guest speakers
    • Discussions, conversations, and chats
    • Plays
    • Dramatic read aloud
    • An audio recording of notes
    • Music
    • Audiobooks
    Kinesthetic
    • Play games
    • Roleplaying
    • Hands-on activities
    • Observation and experimentation
    • Trial and error
    • Real-world examples
    • Practical exercises
    • Group work
    • Competition
    • Hand gestures
    • Physical movement - snap, clap, sing, jump, run, march, tag, exercises, stretches...
    • Building concepts with legos, dough, blocks
    Linguistic
    • Read books aloud and independently
    • Listen to stories
    • Take detailed notes
    • Write a summaries, stories, definitions
    • Play word games
    • Telling and listening to stories
    • Having a debate

    This list is just the beginning of a much longer one full of your ideas. Your best learning style tells you what tools to use before, during or after your core activity time. For example, a visual learner could draw pictures during read-aloud time. Or an auditory learner could sing with the music during listening time.

    The variations of combining the core language source activity with learning tools are limitless.  


    Ways to Build Your Vocabulary

    Language is vocabulary. Grammar is the connection of the single words together. That's how we get meaning. A big vocabulary goes a long ways in conversations and reading. Statements and questions express our thoughts. And are so important to understand what others are saying. This is huge in real life.

    Could you survive in El Oriente de Cuba? Or just at the Hotel Nacional in Havana? The best way to survive is preparation today with a wide variety of words.  


    Sources for Vocabulary

    Remember those books, audios and visual resources? These resources have tons of words. You see them in actual use. They give you real examples. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a print version of an audio source.

    In other situations, like with visual resources, you may need to find a topical vocabulary list. 

    • Word Exploration
    • Topical Vocabulary Lists

    Word Exploration

    Word exploration is a great addition to your core activity time. Your core language resource gives you new words used in a sample sentence.  Get the word exploration sheets to record the meaning in a variety of ways. You can explore by drawing a picture, finding similar words and creating your own examples. 

    This tool is perfect for visual and linguistic learning styles. 


    Topical Vocabulary Lists

    Another source for new words is a topical vocabulary list. Especially fun for hobbies or recreation, finding words to use for those activities is very engaging. The list you look for is based on your interests, specialty or profession.


    Create Your Spanish Study Plan

    Quickly, I'll summarize what you need to make your study plan specific. This will keep you moving forward on each of your language skill goals. And give you a way to track your progress. 

    How much time should I spend learning Spanish?

    A number of factors go into that decision. Chances are if you enjoy how you're learning, you won't even want an answer for that question. As a starting point, your specific language skill goals determine the amount of time. 

    I would say truly learning a language becomes a lifestyle. It is a part of who you are. Put a time estimate on that one. 


    Length of activity time

    The learners age sets the activity length. Generally speaking, younger minds have a shorter attention span. 

    Preschool - at will, prone to wander

    Elementary age - 15 minutes

    Middle School - 30 minutes 

    High School - 45 minutes

    Adult - limited according to interest, avoid distractions (same as preschool age)


    Tips for Successful Learning

    A mindset for growth will get you bigger results and faster. Keep these tips fresh in your mind. They will help you keep your focus on your learning path. 

    Take Action

    Now that you've got a study plan, it's time to do it. Planners, add it to your schedule. My spontaneous ones, make sure it gets done early daily. Don't just think about it. Gather the materials and get started today. Let your big dream motivate you. 

    Expect to Struggle

    Get comfortable with struggling to understand and express yourself. That is to be expected because you don't know anything yet. Love frustration, it is a sign of growth.

    Make a Backup Study Plan

    Life always has a way of getting in the way of your plans. Even your own overwhelm, perfectionism, procrastination, illness, schedule change, resposibilities or irresponsibility may be your biggest obstacle. A good backup plan, will give you a simple alternative source and activity, as follows:  

    • For read-aloud time, instead of the print book, switch to an audiobook to listen to while you are driving in the car.
    • If a morning read-aloud time is not going well, change reading time to after lunch.
    • It's the holiday season and you have less free time, reduce the amount of time or number of times per week, so you will still have a good study habit.
    • Sickness has taken over, so watch some movies with subtitles in Spanish.
    • Often, future circumstances are not predictable, yet having some sort of alternative will help you continue to make progress towards your ultimate objective.

    Reward Your Wins

    Always celebrate small progress and big milestones, often. Reward yourself regularly for your accomplishments. Add that to your plan too.

    Review and Refocus Your Efforts 

    Be honest with yourself about what's working and what's a complete failure. If you're not making progress, try something different. Adjust the activity, time, tools where needed. Eliminate anything that is stealing your activity time. Make your Spanish study time a priority. 

    Work Hard

    Need I say more? Learning a language is hard work, so just do it. The benefits are large. Remember your reasons why you decided to make this study plan. Keep going strong. 

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